Isle of Wight Charter – With the era of the coastal paddle steamer about to come to an end, Balmoral’s sailing around the Isle of Wight on May 2nd was an event not to be missed. The vessel left Weymouth at 8.32. When the engines went dead just outside the harbour we wondered whether our excursion had reached its conclusion, but having left the pilot behind, the reassuring rumble of the diesels made itself heard again. Arrival at Swanage was enlivened by one of the gentlemen on the bow rope who managed to throw a line ashore and then discovered nothing was attached to it! At Bournemouth Balmoral was unsuccessful in her attempt to move the pier several feet westward. The effect of this attempt upon passengers was generally one of amusement, but this was not seen on the faces of the hundreds of people on the Pier who watched tons of steel bearing down on them at considerable speed. A patch of dense fog on the south side of the island necessitated a reduction in speed. The fog lifted before the Needles and the call at Shanklin was cut short. Some time was made up between Bournemouth and Weymouth and Balmoral tied up at 10.25. With the best part of 600 passengers carried the Charter was a success. Thanks go to the many Society members who helped in the organisation.
The Lundy charter – The morning of July 5th began with the news that SS Great Britain had left Avonmouth at 07.20 for her journey up to Bristol the final leg of her voyage from the Falklands. Thousands flocked to the banks of the Avon to see the old ship. The tricky operation of towing the Great Britain necessitated closure of the river and in consequence Balmoral berthed at the Royal Edward Dock in Avonmouth. A fleet of buses ‘set sail’ from Hotwells giving everyone a wonderful view of the Great Britain slowly proceeding up the river. With about 350 passengers aboard, Balmoral departed at 09.40. A brief stop at Clevedon Pier to pick up additional passengers and then to Weston-Super-Mare where some had crossed over from Cardiff and Penarth in MV Westward Ho. On leaving Weston an informal ceremony was held in the dining saloon when the Society presented a painting depicting PS Balmoral in 1901 to the present ship. It was accepted by Capt. Wide and Mr Anscombe of Red Funnel Services, the ship’s owners. Additional passengers were embarked at Ilfracombe and the Balmoral headed west. The fog-horn of Lundy’s South Light could be heard and suddenly Lundy loomed out of the mist. Balmoral anchored and soon three motor launches were alongside to ferry passengers to the beach. On return a delay occurred at Ilfracombe and passengers for Cardiff and Penarth were disembarked at Barry and Weston was reached at 23.00. Despite the overcast sky it had been an excellent cruise and a very successful charter by the Society.
News from Scotland – The news regarding Waverley is not encouraging. When Waverley leaves Glasgow bound for Ardrishaig on September 26th she will be on a sentimental journey. It seems likely that this will be the last time that the sound of paddle beats will ever be heard on the Clyde.
PS Kingswear Castle – Beached between Binfield Mill and Folly Inn with her funnel uncapped, all her etched glass was broken by vandals in May. Her builders plate is safe, however, for after being unscrewed in March, a member of the Wight Loco Society rescued it from the mud in Spring and it has been kindly kept in safe keeping for us.